Farm Bill Conservation Programs and the Continuing Resolution
First Fiscal Year 2014 Application Signup Cycle ends November 15, 2013
Harrisburg, PA, Oct. 25, 2013 — Expiration of the Farm Bill and the recently passed Continuing Resolution allows the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to offer some Farm Bill conservation programs, but not all, according to Denise Coleman, Pennsylvania State Conservationist. In addition, the Federal Government shutdown suspended NRCS work on existing conservation program contracts, delaying certification of practices installed during that time. Conservation program contract holders that installed practices during the government shutdown should notify their local NRCS field office so NRCS can verify the practices meet standards and process payments for those practices.
Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA); Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP); Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)
The Continuing Resolution provides funding for AMA, EQIP and WHIP. Pennsylvania NRCS will review and rank eligible applications received at NRCS offices by November 15th. If additional funding is available after applications from the first signup cycle are evaluated, NRCS will repeat the application review cycle using signup cycle end dates of December 15 2013; February 21 2014; April 18 2014; and May 16 2014. Eligible agricultural producers and landowners can apply for these programs at any time.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
The Continuing Resolution provides funding for CSP. Like EQIP, any eligible agricultural producer can apply for CSP anytime. NRCS has not yet announced an application selection date this year.
The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)
The Continuing Resolution provides funding for FRPP. NRCS will announce the deadline for cooperating entities to submit applications this year.
Expired Conservation Programs
Several conservation program authorities lapsed when the Farm Bill expired. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI) provided funding for agricultural conservation practices; producers can apply through EQIP as an alternative program. The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP), and Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP) provided funding for land or habitat restoration and permanent protection through conservation easements. NRCS cannot accept new applications for these easement programs at this time but will work with interested landowners to explain general restoration and easement processes, in anticipation of conservation easement funding options that may be included in a new farm bill. NRCS will continue to service existing agreements and contracts from prior years to complete easement closings and restoration activities and to ensure conservation practice implementation.
Visit the Pennsylvania NRCS website at www.pa.nrcs.usda.gov for further information.
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